ALI SALIM ALQAYDI is a retired Lieutenant Colonel, Ministry Of Interior, Abu Dhabi. Currently, he is Chairman of Board, Habita Dubai, after he got the franchise from Habita International, a company offering high-quality real estate brokerage to domestic and foreign clients. In this interview, he shares with Associate Editor, KEMI AJUMOBI on transiting from policing to real estate, and how the sector is playing significant roles in Dubai’s economy. Excerpts.
How did the passion for real estate emerge?
I retired as a Police Lieutenant Colonel in 2020 after serving for 26 years. I then started my own real estate company in 2021 and after that, I got a franchise from Habita International, Finland, a Finnish real estate company that has grown internationally and focuses on brokerage in apartments, offices and commercial properties. After a year, I opened holiday homes for short term. I currently have 25 agents, but my plan is to increase to 100 agents and this goal is already within reach.
Tell us about Tamm real estate
After covid, the real estate in Dubai market started to grow with huge steps. Researching the market, I realized that there are not too many Emiratis in this field, and I felt the need that I should be part of it. The first year was very challenging because it was a new industry to me and I had to start from scratch. It meant I had to find the right people, learn new projects, set up administration and most importantly, find the way to succeed. From a small office of 20sqm and 1 secretary, we are now a team of 30 professionals in 80sqm office. We experienced healthy growth with big sale transactions of up to 10million AED.
“With the new agreement between Nigeria and Dubai, we are expecting great results from Nigeria”
What is it about investing in real estate in Dubai that people need to know?
Investing in real estate in Dubai is the safest investment. I say so because it is protected and regulated by the UAE government itself. You get high return on investment that reaches up to 35% and it is 100% tax free.
Why the decision to join the franchise of Habita?
Being new in the market requires tons of effort and investment to stand out and make the difference. With Habita, we are connected globally under one portal. Furthermore, the system is digitised with latest top-notch technologies. Not only that, Habita is present in 35 different countries, which makes their global relevance intentionally effective.
What do you do as Chairman of Habita Dubai?
As Chairman, I help brokers enter into the Emirati market, making it possible to work on pure off-market products. I handle high ticket sales, encourage trust in growth and stability and certainly provide safety for the employees.
How do you maintain consistent quality and standards across all franchise locations in Dubai?
We have well trained and licensed agents, we also ensure transparency for all transactions and our focus and goal is to provide best costumer services. Most importantly, we are big on loyalty to workers and clients.
What differentiates your company from other real estate companies operating in Dubai?
We don’t do things for show-off, we work hard. For each individual or business that we engage, we leave a positive and lasting impression. More so, Habita international brand has its reputation around the world which speaks for itself, hence the reason we chose to get their franchise and so far, it has been a beautiful experience.
How has the real estate market in Dubai evolved in recent years, and what trends do you foresee for the future?
I foresee a life of living out what many could only dream of. For instance, the future will bring pools inside apartments and so many other dynamic inventions. There will be no need to travel the world (unless for few days only) because the world will be United Arab Emirates.
What are the factors that drive property prices and rental rates in Dubai? How do you anticipate these factors changing in the future?
With an increase of 47% in price within a period of 3 years, real estate leveled up the economy and the quality of products and life itself. The biggest factors include: Casinos, 7star hotels, unique projects like Palm Jebel Ali and Dubai Creek Tower.
How do you assess and manage risks associated with real estate investments in Dubai?
Choosing the right projects and investments for clients is our priority. Also, we work with professionals and trustworthy partners. In addition to this, associating and collaborating with all Habita branches brings only safe investment with very low risks.
Can you provide insights into the target market segments that your company focuses on and the strategies you employ to attract buyers or tenants?
Our main focus is on international clients. One of our strategies is to separate our teams of qualified staff. We have two teams, one for primary and one for secondary market. Another strategy we use is technology. We have the right technology that a client can evaluate, choose and purchase properties without having to be present.
What are some of the key factors that foreign investors should consider when investing in Dubai’s real estate market?
As said before, it is zer0 income tax. We also have good government regulations and controls, high returns, free hold properties and definitely best world projects.
Can you share any notable achievement of your company in delivering landmark projects in Dubai?
Our agents within first month of joining the company made their first sale commission of 400,000 AED, selling in the iconic Sky View towers in downtown. Where it takes other companies even longer time in the market, it took them lesser time to achieve. There is heightened optimism for the present and greater hope for the future. We are here to stay.
How involved are Africans in real estate business in Dubai? Do you have them as clients? What ratio are Nigerians?
So far, most investors come from Northern Africa like Egypt and Morocco. Now, with the new agreement between Nigeria and Dubai, we are expecting great results from Nigeria, and we are prepared already because we have sorted Habita Nigeria office.
Nigeria is a country with rich potentials and business opportunities. Staying away and reading about the country is not same as being there or doing business while on ground, hence the reason we opened our office in Nigeria because we want to understand the business terrain better, connect closely with our clients and give them the quality service they deserve.
As a retired lieutenant colonel, what did your entire experience teach you in your years of service?
Firstly, safety is priority for me. I also learnt to be there for people. It is why, even till date, I make my employees feel at home and also ensure they also focus on growing themselves. However, I am big on discipline, commitment, respect, honesty and appreciation for successes and achievements.
How was your transition from policing to real estate? Why did you decide to make that decision?
The transition was challenging but exciting. I went out of my comfort zone and decided that, now that I had finished my duty as a citizen, it was time to work for myself and grow.
How has Dubai embraced tokenisation of real estate?
Dubai has explored the concept of tokenisation, where real estate assets are represented as digital tokens on a blockchain. Tokenisation allows fractional ownership, making it easier for investors to buy and sell shares of a property. In 2019, the Dubai’s land registry, the Dubai Land Department (DLD), partnered with a blockchain firm to launch a real estate tokenisation platform called ‘Digital Real Estate.’
What is your take on Dubai putting their real estate projects on blockchain?
There are projects worth billions in Dubai that are part of blockchain, and that’s the fastest way. Digital currencies are trending and reliable in Dubai. We have our wallets and partnerships on blockchain. These several initiatives demonstrate Dubai’s commitment to leveraging blockchain technology to transform the real estate industry and create a more efficient and secure environment for property transactions.